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Topic: Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US? (Read 6695 times) previous topic - next topic
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Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

I'm a pretty big fan of The Moody Blues.  I was pretty excited when the 2008-2008 remasters came out in the US with bonus material, so I upgraded my old CDs, which were upgrades of my old LPs.

I then decided to check the Dynamic Range database for the album Long Distance Voyager at http://dr.loudness-war.info.

What I saw was kind of interesting.  The original CD release in 1986 had an average dynamic range of 11.  The 2008 remaster seems to be a victim of the loudness wars, with sa dynamic range of 8.  But there's a 2014 Japanese release that has a average dynamic range of 12, which is just as good as the vinyl.

Makes me wonder if I'd get better quality music if I started buying imports instead of domestic versions of a CD.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #1
It's not just in the US - it's worldwide generally, but sometimes a release in a particular territory uses a different master.

Many (most?) releases are identical globally, or as close to identical that it doesn't matter.

Cheers,
David.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #2
It's not that I mind, but Europe is home to a lot of metal bands, which more or less automatically means that they have seen a lot of highly compressed releases as well
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #3
It's not that I mind, but Europe is home to a lot of metal bands, which more or less automatically means that they have seen a lot of highly compressed releases as well


Which is made even worse when melodic-type metal bands (complete with operatic vocals etc.) turn to over-compressing their albums in order to "compete".

When all you're looking for is more crunch, I can sort of see the reasoning for the compressed sound (but it's still unnecessary), but it's absolute murder on melodic vocals.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #4
But there's a 2014 Japanese release that has a average dynamic range of 12, which is just as good as the vinyl. Makes me wonder if I'd get better quality music if I started buying imports instead of domestic versions of a CD.
That's probably of the SHM variety, which after 2012 or so should be a remaster. The majority of those Japanese "platinum" edition remasters have a lot of dynamic range. They are expensive though. The packaging is always nice (as with most Japanese market releases).

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #5
(complete with operatic vocals etc.) turn to over-compressing their albums in order to "compete".

Sounds like you're referring to Nightwish. They're on their way 'back up'. The DR album scores:

- 1998, Oceanborn: 5
- 2001, Wishmaster: 6
- 2002, Century Child: 6
- 2004, Once: 6
- 2007, Dark Passion Play: 5
- 2011, Imaginaerum: 6
- 2015, Endless Forms Most Beatiful: 8

Still, I enjoy each and every one of these albums...
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #6
(complete with operatic vocals etc.) turn to over-compressing their albums in order to "compete".

Sounds like you're referring to Nightwish. They're on their way 'back up'. The DR album scores:

- 1998, Oceanborn: 5
- 2001, Wishmaster: 6
- 2002, Century Child: 6
- 2004, Once: 6
- 2007, Dark Passion Play: 5
- 2011, Imaginaerum: 6
- 2015, Endless Forms Most Beatiful: 8

Still, I enjoy each and every one of these albums...


Actually, I was referring to Powerwolf, but Nightwish is another good example.

- 2005, Return in Bloodred: 5
- 2007, Lupus Dei: 6
- 2009, Bible Of The Beast: 5
- 2011, Blood Of The Saints: 7

Although it's not outright hideous on the DR front, the main problem is the massive clipping on most of the tracks. I could live with compressed dynamics if the clipping wasn't there, but it's just bad.

Here's the first track off of Preachers Of The Night from 2013:




On the upside, there seems to be some dynamic range there. On the downside, massive clipping. I don't know who the mastering tech was, but he deserves to have his fingers cut off. It's bad enough that I've reached out to the band, practically begging them to make sure the mastering on their new album won't be equally fucked up.

Apparently Preachers Of The Night has a DR of 11 on vinyl. I'm not sure how true that is, though. I have it and it still sounds compressed to me, but at least there doesn't seem to be any clipping, or at maybe the record evens it out a bit.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #7
It's not just in the US - it's worldwide generally, but sometimes a release in a particular territory uses a different master.

Many (most?) releases are identical globally, or as close to identical that it doesn't matter.

Cheers,
David.


I've noticed that Japanese releases on the DR database tend amost always have a better Dynamic Range.  And not just the SHM CDs, but regular aluminum ones also.  I wonder if the Japanese, as a music listening culture prefer more dynamic range over "loudness."  That makes Japanese releases a little more desirable, at least in my eyes.

I think all this is really more relevant with older analog recordings, where the dynamic range can probably be adjusted based on pulling in the old master tapes and doing a new digital remaster.  If you have a pretty compressed digital master, you're screwed.  You can't bring back what was never there to begin with.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #8
But there's a 2014 Japanese release that has a average dynamic range of 12, which is just as good as the vinyl. Makes me wonder if I'd get better quality music if I started buying imports instead of domestic versions of a CD.
That's probably of the SHM variety, which after 2012 or so should be a remaster. The majority of those Japanese "platinum" edition remasters have a lot of dynamic range. They are expensive though. The packaging is always nice (as with most Japanese market releases).



Do they? (i.e., SHM remasters usually have a lot of dynamic range)?    Has this been verified objectively?




(NB 'SHM' itself is audiophile woo  -- the idea being that better material construction of the CD = better sound.  So any tendency towards higher DR would be a mastering choice above and beyond the use of 'SHM')

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #9
Do they? (i.e., SHM remasters usually have a lot of dynamic range)?    Has this been verified objectively?
(NB 'SHM' itself is audiophile woo  -- the idea being that better material construction of the CD = better sound.  So any tendency towards higher DR would be a mastering choice above and beyond the use of 'SHM')
I didn't mean to say that by virtue of being SHM they have more dynamic range. And while I can't verify it objectively, it seems most albums under that release campaign have normal-to-high-ish DR. I have a few in my personal collection that are good.

Scrolling through the DR database shows a mixture, but many are in the green.
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=&album=SHM



Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #11
I beg to differ as all these are Japanese releases and exclusives to Japan itself.  The Adventure soundtracks seem to match more closely to the Adventure games in terms of mastering job or something a tad strange.  Still I'm not sure why SA2's vocal album has such a crap rating of 1, could be most of the tracks are digital salience that's between the regular and karaoke versions which have a rating between 7 and 10?  Although other soundtracks are louder than the games their from.  I happen to own all those CDs.  There is clipping in some of those albums, but not super bad.
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88086
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88087
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88088
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88089
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88090
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88091
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88098
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88100
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88101
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88102

The loudness wars as it applies to games and their Japanese exclusive soundtrack releases.


Well isn't this a kick to balls.  This is most dynamic one I own from the same series of games!  Oh wait it's the mid 90's.  But damn...
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/88097

To be honest I have yet to encounter an album with super bad master job as most of what I own and have listened to doesn't get as bad as some people on this forum have had the misfortune of running into.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #12
Apparently Preachers Of The Night has a DR of 11 on vinyl. I'm not sure how true that is, though.
DR values for vinyl are a guarantee of nothing.

I have it and it still sounds compressed to me,
Then it probably is.

but at least there doesn't seem to be any clipping
Assuming you are right in that it sounds compressed then the vinyl version contains the same amount of clipping in all the same places, just that you probably just don't know what to look for (Audacity won't identify them for you).

Maybe there's a separate digital master for the vinyl where the compression was reduced to the point that there is less clipping, but it seems that when a separate master is made for vinyl it is highly dynamic in comparison.

EDIT: Nope, I just had a peek.  The vinyl version is plagued by tons of clipping too.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #13
RE: DR values for vinyl, I've read the thread and watched the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-AE9dL5FG8

Assuming you are right in that it sounds compressed then the vinyl version contains the same amount of clipping in all the same places, just that you probably just don't know what to look for (Audacity won't identify them for you).

I know what to look for in Audacity, but I haven't recorded it and looked for flat or cut off peaks on the waveform, only listened to it and compared to the CD version. The vinyl version does sound a little less in-your-face to me, but considering the wholly different signal path, including basic things like the characteristics of the cartridge/tonearm, it's not a straight comparison.

Quote
Maybe there's a separate digital master for the vinyl where the compression was reduced to the point that there is less clipping, but it seems that when a separate master is made for vinyl it is highly dynamic in comparison.

EDIT: Nope, I just had a peek.  The vinyl version is plagued by tons of clipping too.

Actually, there is something odd with the CD versions, at least. Some of the tracks clip like mad. Others have "no clipping" (ie. they don't hit 0dBFS), but if you look at the waveforms, there are still tons of clipped and flattened peaks. Apparently they were clipped during mastering and then reduced by 0.1dB. For some reason, only some of the tracks are like this.

It really is an amateur no-effort mastering job.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #14
I know what to look for in Audacity, but I haven't recorded it and looked for flat or cut off peaks on the waveform

If you are looking for flat or cut off peaks in the vinyl then you don't know what to look for.

Also, there is a significant difference in level between digitized vinyl and a ripped CD of a title which used the same digital master for each version. Until you correctly account for this difference, you can't make a valid comparison. NB: replaygain likely isn't going to properly match levels for you.

This has been discussed in a few threads, some long before that video surfaced. These discussions also offer explanations, whereas the video does not.  The video should provide enough information to infer that there is no point in offering up a DR value in order to indicate qualitative differences between vinyl and CD, however.

I'm sorry for taking the time to point this out, though I feel it needs to be said in these situations; otherwise people may get the wrong idea.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #15
Go on, post a link to one of your waveform plots, for new readers who haven't seen what digital clipping cut to vinyl looks like.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #16
It's not just in the US - it's worldwide generally, but sometimes a release in a particular territory uses a different master.

Many (most?) releases are identical globally, or as close to identical that it doesn't matter.

Cheers,
David.


I've noticed that Japanese releases on the DR database tend amost always have a better Dynamic Range.  And not just the SHM CDs, but regular aluminum ones also.  I wonder if the Japanese, as a music listening culture prefer more dynamic range over "loudness."  That makes Japanese releases a little more desirable, at least in my eyes.
As someone who listens to mostly Japanese music, I disagree. They are a mixed bag when it comes to mastering as well. I saw everything from DR16 (Nagi no asukara OST 2) to DR3 (angela's Sidonia single). Most singles/non-ost albums tend to reside around DR4-DR8, while OSTs are mostly higher (DR7-DR16). The interesting part is, sometimes there is an overcompressed release and a dynamic release from the same label (different albums, same genre), so I guess it depends on who mastered the disc. It's also interesting to see "Anime" vs "regular" release sometimes have a large gap in DR.

I also have at least 3 CDs where some tracks are so heavily clipped, they are hardly listenable. Distortion on vocal peaks is especially mood-killing if it happens on what's supposed to be the crescendo of the song


Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #17
It you are looking for flat or cut off peaks in the vinyl then you don't know what to look for.


Like I said, I haven't been looking at the waveforms from the vinyl.

But I have read the discussions (at Steve Hoffman's site, too) and I kinda do know what to look for, like peaks that taper off in an 'odd' fashion compared to the actual musical signal. I assume this is because it is physically impossible for the stylus to hold a flat, almost DC-like waveform like digital formats can.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #18
It you are looking for flat or cut off peaks in the vinyl then you don't know what to look for.


Like I said, I haven't been looking at the waveforms from the vinyl.

But I have read the discussions (at Steve Hoffman's site, too) and I kinda do know what to look for, like peaks that taper off in an 'odd' fashion compared to the actual musical signal. I assume this is because it is physically impossible for the stylus to hold a flat, almost DC-like waveform like digital formats can.


Digital audio exists for a reason, and the reason is that in the late 1960s and early 1970s the best recording technicians in the world found that they had pushed vinyl and analog tape about as far as they could be pushed, and at that point they were still woefully inadequate to handle the full power bandwidth of music as people wanted to enjoy it. Note: This was before Rap and movies with SFX which are in a whole nuther zip code of difficulty  than the music of that era.

If you judge analog by what you read at the Steve Hoffman Shrine To Legacy Media, you get a rose-colored view of analog, and a $#!+-colored view of digital.  There were as many packages of tricks that were used to force 5 pounds of music into analog's 2 pound (LP) and 3 pound (Analog tape) bags as there were mastering engineers. 

What you seem to be describing is some kind of dynamic range compression, probably more like limiting as opposed to the more gentle but still brutal compression (both are simply different degrees of the same basic thing which is not high fidelity).

Since digital there are no significant technical limits to what the best media will bear. Whatever music has become since then is based on recording producer perceptions of the tastes of the market or its lack of taste.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #19
I see a John Cage album has highest DR in the database. Does the album contain 4:33? 
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/dr-min/desc

Your remark made me smile (knowing that 4:33 is just silence).
But it apparently contains other pieces (click), not sure if it was recorded with or without audience.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #20
Opeth' latest albums have changed from metal towards rock and RG album gain is down to -5 dB from older albums (-9 up to -11 dB).
"I hear it when I see it."

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #21
I beg to differ as all these are Japanese releases and exclusives to Japan itself.  The Adventure soundtracks seem to match more closely to the Adventure games in terms of mastering job or something a tad strange.  Still I'm not sure why SA2's vocal album has such a crap rating of 1, could be most of the tracks are digital salience that's between the regular and karaoke versions which have a rating between 7 and 10?  Although other soundtracks are louder than the games their from.  I happen to own all those CDs.  There is clipping in some of those albums, but not super bad.

Speaking of Japanese game/anime music, I have some really loud Idolm@ster albums. They are not clipped but just hyper-compressed and sounded like pink to white noise.
Scanned with foobar2000 1.3.5, default RG setting (is it -18 LUFS?)
http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php...ost&id=8291

For those who don't know about Idolm@ster, it is something like date-sim + rhythm game. Just like Metallica's Death Magnetic in Guitar Hero, the in-game songs sounded much much more dynamic than the CD versions because the game needed to mix vocal, music and sound effects together so there are plenty of headroom in the in-game songs.
https://youtu.be/ir-Hve1fh04
Actually the in-game audio data are lossy (CRI ADX, some sort of ADPCM) but it really doesn't matter when compared with those hyper-compressed "lossless" CD-Audio. The sad thing is that songs in CDs are in complete length but in-game songs are usually about 2 minutes only.

I can't find any Idolm@ster albums in dr.loudness-war.info, let's assume this database is rather incomplete and therefore can't be used to estimate the DR distribution among different countries. Also, IMO DR is a rather complex and subjective topic and can't be summarized in 3 numbers.

I see a John Cage album has highest DR in the database. Does the album contain 4:33? 
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/dr-min/desc

Your remark made me smile (knowing that 4:33 is just silence).
But it apparently contains other pieces (click), not sure if it was recorded with or without audience.

Loudness statistics for these kinds of contemporary music are really interesting, just like cheating 

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #22
Opeth' latest albums have changed from metal towards rock and RG album gain is down to -5 dB from older albums (-9 up to -11 dB).


Heritage was pretty compressed, but Pale Communion is much better, both subjectively judging the overall mastering job, as well as going by the DR database.

Is the Loudness war something only experienced in the US?

Reply #23
No.

 
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